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Our homelessness problem won’t be solved by money alone – it requires structural change too

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Life on the streets: A homeless person’s tent beside the canal in Dublin. PHOTO: JUSTIN FARRELLY

Life on the streets: A homeless person’s tent beside the canal in Dublin. PHOTO: JUSTIN FARRELLY

Life on the streets: A homeless person’s tent beside the canal in Dublin. PHOTO: JUSTIN FARRELLY

Sarah Carey starts her article ('Plight of homeless demands more facts and less emotion on streets - and online', Irish Independent, September 12) by reminding us of the photograph of the elderly independent man John Joe Quinn having a pint.

This shows how easy it has become for us to make assumptions about people based on how they look, how they behave or even just because they are different. How easy it has become too to invade their privacy.

Ms Carey noted some very important issues around homelessness. Christmas always leads to media coverage of homelessness but sometimes, maybe due to time constraints, just deals with the visual rather than looking at how someone ended up on the streets. Politicians don't really address the underlying issues, often due to limited knowledge and maybe being informed by advisers with limited experience.

Homelessness is only seen as a housing issue, one to be solved by bricks and mortar and more money. Yes, there is a housing shortage and there are many people whose need is housing alone.

We in the Alice Leahy Trust have been working since 1975 with people who are homeless. It appears to me that we have gone full circle: people coming from institutions were relocated to hostels that were cheaper to run with limited or no supports. The drug problem developed at great speed where the answer was in most cases replacing one drug with another one also addictive.

This has been allowed to continue for decades with no one brave enough to say stop, or if they were they were not heard. Huge numbers of homeless people coming from other jurisdictions exist on our streets. The only "decent" accommodation the majority of them get is when in prison, often with very severe addiction or mental health problems. Then they are discharged back to the streets.

Millions are being spent to deal with the problem of homelessness. We need to address the structural and especially the social causes of homelessness, of which there are many.

Alice Leahy

Alice Leahy Trust, Dublin 8

 

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EU must be aware of the cost of a united Ireland

The threat posed by the Brexit negotiations to the union of Northern Ireland with Britain may be viewed with greater equanimity by some of us than others.

An independent united Ireland can be seen as a natural outcome which has been delayed for over a century by the antics of the IRA, going back to a time when peaceful transition was within reach. There is reason to feel that reconciliation is again plausible, the Irish people having in recent decades liberated themselves from the tyranny of the Catholic Church.

The EU needs, however, to be aware that if it forces such an outcome then its cohesion fund will be taking on responsibility for maintaining the north of Ireland at a level of prosperity sufficient to stupefy any resulting dissent.

One might hope to see the Protestant community playing a positive role within a united Ireland, perhaps even drawing home some of their post-independence diaspora.

John Riseley

Harrogate, Yorkshire, England

 

McDonald dons the green jersey to tackle UK U-turn

Until I heard Mary Lou McDonald's recent comments in the Dáil, I thought Perfidious Albion was a football team.

Tom Gilsenan

Beaumont, Dublin 9

 

Hypocrisy of opposition creates a climate of fear

It looks like the period of national solidarity concerning Covid-19 offered by the opposition parties is well and truly over. This unruly pack, led by Sinn Féin and the Social Democrats, seek to do nothing but spread fear and uncertainty across the country. In this they are ably assisted by the new over-­aggressive interview style of certain RTÉ 'journalists' eager to prove how tough they are.

The Government's record is not perfect, but it is far from the omni-shambles the opposition try to paint it as. The hypocrisy of Sinn Féin and the Social Democrats creates an unnecessary climate of fear in the population. It is they who are deliberately sowing the seeds of confusion in relation to Covid restrictions, not the Government.

Henry Cruise

Celbridge, Co Kildare

 

At this time of crisis, here come the hurlers on ditch

As usual, this crisis is being managed by a small number of people who work themselves to exhaustion on our behalf.

As usual, the hurlers on the ditch have arrived in numbers that would swamp Croke Park.

Pat O'Mahony

Dalkey, Co Dublin

 

Palestinian political elite and their veto over peace

Dr Munjed Farid Al Qutob is wrong to say that peace is further away because of the peace agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates (''Historic' Middle East deal puts peace as far off as ever', Letters, Irish Independent, September 18). John Hume once said of the North: "The solution will be found not on the basis of victory for either, but on the basis of agreement and a partnership".

For too long the Palestinian political elite has exercised a veto over any move to build bridges and understanding between Arab states and tiny Israel.

True to form, Hamas, the Palestinian Islamists ruling Gaza, responded to the latest peace agreement by firing rockets into Israel.

The Palestinian Authority condemned the Israel-UAE deal as "a stab in the back" and vowed to oppose it.

Who is afraid of peace? Since 1937 Israeli Jews have accepted eight peace plans while the Palestinian political elite have rejected every one. Sadly, some things never change.

Karl Martin

Dublin 13

 

Give no quarter to these shameless deal breakers

Now is the time for Ireland to stand firm against British dissembling over the international treaty.

The late Peter Sutherland always maintained that Ireland only received parity of status with the UK after joining the EU. Before that we were invariably relegated to also-rans to be tossed a bone from Westminster's table as it suited.

Our list of outstanding commissioners, from Burke to Sutherland to Hogan, proved to Europe that the Irish were equal to anybody.

Now we have a strong representative in Mairead McGuinness and it is imperative that she and Simon Coveney and the Taoiseach give no quarter to shameless deal-breakers.

And the Unionists in the North should take note that they have already received short shrift from London and will continue to do so while Johnson is in power.

Maurice O'Callaghan

Stillorgan, Co Dublin

 

Government is confusing a very simple message

The Government's hamfisted attempts at communications has struck again. Government ministers and European commissioners are already struggling to understand the difference between isolation and quarantine. Even journalists struggle to understand the difference between "restrict your movements" and self-isolation.

But at least both were for the same period of 14 days. Now with isolation reduced to 10 days but quarantine remaining at 14 days, the Government miscommunications has managed yet again to confuse a very simple message.

Which is, if you have symptoms or if you have a positive test, you must isolate yourself for 10 days.

If you are a close contact or an overseas traveller you must quarantine yourself for 14 days.

Journalists; would it be possible for you to use the right word in the right context?

Jason Fitzharris

Rivervalley, Swords, Co Dublin

 

Upping the Anti in debate over Trump coverage

Pat Mullinbemoans a lack of journalistic balance in the criticism of Donald Trump ('Media's attacks on Trump are unrelenting and unfair', Irish Independent, September 14). He points out that 45pc of the US population intends voting for Trump. Mr Mullins neglects to say that those 45pc would vote Republican even if their candidate was the Anti-Christ himself.

Some of us think that they have already voted for the Anti-Christ in 2016.

Sean Healy

Summerville Avenue, Waterford


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